The word tinnitus comes from the Latin verb "to jingle" and is a sensation of noise originating inside the head and is typically only heard by the person affected.
According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, tinnitus is the number one service-related injury among veterans, and it affects at least one in every 10 American adults.
It can be:
- A buzzing or ringing in the ears
- A hissing or roaring sound
- High-, low-, single- or multi-toned
- Occasional or constant
However it can also be caused by accidents, ear infections, aging or stress. For veterans specifically, the repetitive sound of a machine gun or other loud noises of war can make you more susceptible to tinnitus.
For many veterans, tinnitus brings an often unwelcome reminder of war. When it is associated with a negative emotional response, it can make your brain pay more attention to the tinnitus. And a cycle begins that affects your nervous system. Anxiety, sleep disturbance, depression and poor concentration can occur, all of which reinforce the vicious cycle.